City councilman focus of criminal investigation

EVERETT – Everett City Councilman Mark Olson is the focus of a criminal investigation into allegations he sexually assaulted a woman after an evening of drinking.

Detectives from the Washington State Patrol searched Olson’s downtown Everett law office June 30, looking for evidence of second-degree rape, court documents show.

Olson, 52, on Tuesday referred all questions to his attorney.

“Since this is an ongoing investigation, I can’t really comment,” said Olson’s attorney, Jessica Riley of Seattle.

Investigators are trying to determine if the sex was consensual or if a crime occurred.

The investigation began June 27 after the woman, in her 40s, told Everett police she believed she had been sexually assaulted by Olson in his office the night before.

Olson and the woman had spent the evening with friends at restaurants in Everett. She told detectives she had four drinks that night and felt very intoxicated, according to a sworn search warrant affidavit.

The woman recalled being at Olson’s office at one point, and woke the next morning with bruises and other reasons to believe that sexual activity had occurred, documents show.

The woman “has no memory of consenting to a sexual encounter and believes she was too impaired to provide consent,” the affidavit said.

Everett police handed over the investigation to the State Patrol, a move taken to avoid a potential conflict of interest.

Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Janice Ellis last week took a similar step, asking prosecutors in Skagit County to oversee the investigation.

Ellis said she took the step because she knows Olson and the woman, although neither well.

“There is no need to complicate an already difficult and sensitive case,” Ellis said.

Skagit County Prosecuting Attorney Rich Weyrich said his office has agreed to handle the case but hasn’t received any paperwork from Snohomish County or detectives.

Once his office has the case report Weyrich will “try to make a decision as soon as possible,” he said.

State Patrol detective Jeff Rhue said Olson has cooperated with the investigators.

Detectives are awaiting state crime lab reports, including blood-screening tests, he said. Investigators also seized genetic evidence from Olson, the search warrant shows.

The tests “will give us a more complete picture if a crime has been committed,” Rhue said.

He said the investigation must try to resolve questions about whether the woman consented to sex.

An Everett detective overheard a phone call Olson allegedly made to the woman the day she spoke with police, according to the affidavit.

The officer’s notes show Olson did not deny sexual contact and appeared surprised when the woman said she had not consented, documents show.

Olson has been on the City Council since 2001. His current term ends in 2009.

Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or hefley@heraldnet.com.

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